An article in Bloomberg BNA predicts that Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) litigation will continue to increase in 2016. Employment law attorneys provided source data for this prediction, and the article indicated that federal court filings of FLSA suits totaled 8,781 lawsuits in fiscal year 2015. This is an increase of 7.6% from the prior fiscal year. Additionally, FLSA federal court filings have increased about 450% in the last 15 years. Therefore, it is estimated that the number of wage suits in 2016 will be higher and surpass 9,000 separate filings.
Misclassification Claims on the Rise
Employers are attempting to reduce expenses and shift the cost of labor onto workers. One of the ways they do this is classifying workers as independent contractors though they have been traditionally classified as employees. Delivery drivers, strippers, and drivers for ride-sharing services have fought industry practices that they claim deprive them of benefits that are afforded to employees but not independent contractors. On the employer side, employers argue that independent contractors are free to choose when and where they work and have the flexibility to work for other companies. This becomes more apparent in the “on-demand” or “gig” economy, represented by closely-watched cases against Uber and Lyft.
New DOL Rulemaking May Cause Increase in Litigation
In the future, rulemaking by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) which changes the rules governing exemptions may further contribute to the rise in wage suits. The DOL issued a notice of proposed rulemaking updating the so-called white-collar exemption to FLSA. Currently, the salary threshold is $455 per week, or $23,660 per year. DOL proposes to set the salary level at $921 per week, in the 40th percentile of weekly earnings for full-time salaried workers. The DOL believes this is the most appropriate line of separation between exempt and nonexempt employees. This will minimize the risk that employees will be misclassified based solely on salaries received, without excluding from exemption a high number of employees who meet the definition. If this proposal makes it into a final rule that is implemented, it would mean coverage for a greater number of employees and will enable thousands of individuals to be able to bring wage suits.
Tipped employees have particular rights under FLSA, but only if those rights are in line with the law’s minimum wage and overtime thresholds. Specific provisions of FLSA apply to tip pools. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you feel that you have a valid wage claim for unpaid wages as a tipped employee. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.